Feeds:
Posts
Comments
Poetry Friday round-up is with Ruth in Haiti.

Happy New Year! If you are looking for a way to feed your writing life, subscribe to Poets & Writers’ The Time is Now. I do not do their prompt every week, but this week when I was feeling out of touch with writing, I opened it to find a prompt that worked well for me.

“Mars Being Red” by the late poet Marvin Bell lyrically explores the color red as a state of being, likening it to a list of images that both physically resemble the color and provide memories, such as that of youth. In this compact, twelve-line poem, Bell begins what seems to be a portrait of the planet Mars and then delves into a series of digressions that find resolve in a meditation on the possibility of change: “You will not be this quick-to-redden / forever. You will be green again, again and again.” Inspired by Bell, write a poem that serves as a portrait of a color. Use physical descriptions to begin and then personal memories to develop a transformation in this study of hue.
From The Time is Now

Bayou Being Green

Being green is the color of an amaryllis
bud before blooming. Color of time lost
in growth, of soul lost inside
meditation. Green of grassy meadows
we walked with the dog, while our steps
made time disappear for a moment.
Contemplation becomes green in your eyes,
emerald of stars, early light reflects
sage from the bayou surface where green
water darkens as we stroll west toward
sunset, away from dawn into an age
of white on white on white. 

Margaret Simon, draft after Marvin Bell “Mars Being Red”
Bayou Teche in November, Margaret Simon

If you are looking for a weekly photo writing prompt, subscribe to my blog, I am posting a photo each week on Thursdays and invite you to write a small poem response. This Photo Wants to be a Poem.

I took last week off of blogging to be with family for Christmas, but Christmas hasn’t let go of me yet. This slower week I’ve enjoyed looking at the tree, crocheting on the sofa, and watching Christmas movies on Netflix. I think the slow down was good for me, but I worry that the routine of writing will leave and never come back. So, I am committing to this weekly prompt for me and for you.

Ann Sutton is one of those friends who feeds my spiritual life. She is a Methodist minister, watercolor artist, and has a beautiful mezzo-soprano voice. (We met in a community choir years ago.) Christmas worship looked different this year. In her wisdom, Ann didn’t forego the candle lighting on Christmas Eve. She reinvented it. With a variety of candles in buckets of sand, families lit their own candle as they entered her church.

Christmas Eve, by Ann Sutton

What we carry
is heavy; lighten it
with match to flame
then blow.

Margaret Simon, draft

Write your own small poem in the comments. Read and encourage other writers by responding.

Happy New Year! May the peace that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds on the love of Christ.

#SOSMagic: Rituals Change

This week Ruth invites us to write about rituals. As I sit at my computer on Boxing Day, I realize that rituals change. And change they must. In fact, I’ve had to understand that a ritual for me may or may not be one for my family. Accepting the change is my mantra for this holiday season.

Speaking of the lack of church-going in my pandemic life, I said to my daughter, “I’ll be spiritual again in 2021.”

She responded, “Oh, you are still spiritual. It’s just the ritual that you’ve taken a break from.”

She’s right, of course. But I feel the ritual of church, especially singing carols with the choir on Christmas Eve, fed my spiritual life, and without that food, I’m going through the motions of Christmas. My advent candles sit on my kitchen table having never been lit. I wonder at the long term effects of this ritual loss.

I totally forgot about Christmas dinner. Who forgets Christmas dinner? I realized after a text from my sister-in-law that we would have a visit, masked and on the porch with open doors, but no meal. Yikes! We ran to a nearby place that has frozen foods and stocked up 10 minutes before they closed on Christmas Eve. Emergency averted. That meal was the easiest Christmas dinner ever. Maybe a new tradition was born?

As I reflect on Christmas, 2020, I have so many things to be grateful for, beginning with a negative Covid test, so I was comfortable being around my grandchildren. The joys of children at any time of the year, but especially at Christmas, cannot be overrated. Leo, 2 years, was amazed by every “pwesent”, and Thomas, 15 months, wanted to taste every goodie. “Pease!” with the sign for More caved me every time. And even though I cannot physically hold baby Stella, I can watch her from across the room melt onto my daughter’s shoulder. So many blessings. New rituals. Always hope!

Cousins Leo, 2 years, Stella, 3 weeks, and Thomas, 15 months
Poetry Friday round-up is with Michelle Kogan.

One of my favorite things about teaching Reading and Writing to elementary gifted students is our weekly poetry reading and writing. We’d gather around the center table and read a poem together, talk about it, annotate, and write “like” the author. While it looks different this year, I have not given up teaching poetry. This week we worked with Teach this Poem and Joy Harjo’s poem Perhaps the World Ends Here. I love this poem, the universality of it, the simple profound language, and its accessibility to young students.

When Jaden suggested we steal a line, I knew exactly which one I wanted to steal: “This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.” After a few false starts, I am pleased with my poem. I am also posting Jaden’s because it shares wisdom beyond his 10 years.

The Writing Table

At this table,
dreams are written
in decorated notebooks.

There’s a pocket for poems
and clean blue lines open
to ideas.

At this table, there are
scraps of paper,
colored pens in a coffee can,
a tube of glitter-glue.

Today, this table is empty.
A screen glows
while children type 
& breathe through cloth.

Words still float onto an empty page.
Poems still light a spark.

This table is a house in the rain,
An umbrella in the sun,
a dawn in the darkness.
Come taste the sweetness.

Margaret Simon, 2020

Why all
the gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. 
So has it been since creation, and it will go on.

The gifts have been laid out through history
traveling through our mind.
The table of gifts has been the energy of life in our heart.
The gifts of the table have been tampered with.
The gifts in our heart have been bruised.
The table is the immune system 
shielding the gifts of the earth.

Jaden, 5th grade

#SOSmagic: Routines

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic

When a toddler’s routine is interrupted,
he cries “for no reason” and says “don’t like it”
about the thing he adored the day before.
Routines keep me grounded,
like the right foot in my tree pose,
planted into the earth of solid ground.
Sometimes a breeze blows; the tree sways,
but it doesn’t break.

My routine is my checklist:
animals fed, check
smoothie, check
lunch, check
Yeti cup, check.
Mask, check.

A routine is the canvas for my day.
I can be fully present if my routine is in check.
One forgotten or lost step sends my sensitivity into a tailspin.
I need to be protective of my routines,
keep them close and safe,
until…
you call and need me there.

One of the bloggers I follow is Kim Douillard who lives on the west coast of California. She takes beautiful photographs and posts a “Silent Sunday” photo each week on her blog, Thinking Through My Lens. Last Sunday I was fascinated by the beach labyrinth in her photo. I thought about the impermanence of it, how the ocean will eventually wash it away. Like the Tibetan monks who create sand mandalas. The creation is the prayer.

Image by Kim Douillard

Please write a small poem reflecting on the photograph. Write encouraging comments to other writers.

Footsteps mark
lines….
…..eternity

Margaret Simon, a pi-ku
Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

This month’s Ethical ELA Open Write began this weekend. Jennifer Guyor-Jowett led us in writing prompts. On Sunday, she asked us to consider a journey. See the full prompt here. I spent Saturday walking our neighborhood with my 2 year old grandson, Leo. It was a journey of discovery.

A walk with a two year old
is a journey of discovery.
Take the wagon with you.
Pose with your nose in the air
like the reindeer on the lawn next door.
Pick up sticks, a few gumballs, fall leaves.
Stir with a stick–“Cooking bumbo” like Da Da.
Smile when Mr. Jim waves through the window.
You will never get lost.
There’s always a hand to hold.

Margaret Simon, draft
Leo reached up and said, “Hand.” I turned around to see this. My husband, Jeff, known as “Papére” hand in hand with Leo. My heart melted.
At five in the morning, Leo asked to paint. With a set of dot paints and glue stick, he created this masterpiece.

Poetry Friday: Friendship

I introduced the concept of a golden shovel poem to my students as we discussed On Friendship by Kahlil Gibran.

Because friendship is such a universal topic, most young students have experience with it, so the tough puzzle of a golden shovel was eased somewhat. I’m sharing a few results today.

To write a Golden Shovel, borrow a line or phrase by someone else, and use each of their words as the final word of each line in your new poem. You must keep the original order of the words intact, and you must credit the author of the original line or phrase. Peter Kahn

Friendship

When you need help, and when 

you are in trouble, he 

will be the one who is 

going to help you. And when you are silent,

he will know that your

mind and heart 

are in trouble. He ceases not 

to understand your emotions. He loves to listen

to what you have to 

say. His 

love for you is as big as your heart.

by Daniel, 6th grade

Friends are there for
you in
sprinkles and the
storm.  They are the dew
that softens hardness of
the darkness, like a little
sunshine when things
get tough. The
best friends know your heart.
The true friend finds
a way to reach you even when its
a dark time, offering morning
to your night, and 
assuring you all is
refreshed.

Margaret Simon, draft

This week was a sad one for my friend, poet-author Laura Shovan. Her beagle Rudy had a condition known as bloat. Bloat is a serious condition that few dogs survive. To learn more, please click this link to AKC information on bloat. If you own a dog, you need to know the warning signs.

Rudy fought but lost the fight. Laura posted multiple pictures of her beloved pet on social media. I was especially taken with this photo. A dreamy quality that reminds me that our pets know more than we think they know.

Laura and Rudy view the sky.

Leave a poem in the comments. I hope our poems will comfort Laura in some small way. Leave encouraging comments for other writers.

If we could see through
the eyes of a dog,
we’d know the secret
to unconditional love.

Margaret Simon, 2020
Poetry Friday round-up is with Mary Lee at A Year of Reading.

This month, Molly Hogan challenged the Sunday Night Swaggers to write a poem from a favorite line. The prompt can be found here. The idea is to find a line from a book or poem and use the line as your title. Write the poem, then change the title.

I recently had a pleasant email exchange with a friend. She sent me this Rumi poem, The Guest House. I took the line “This human being is a guest house.”

Mothers are on my mind lately as my oldest daughter gave birth to her second child, a daughter, on Monday, Nov. 30th. I was able to be there with her. There is nothing as wonderful and miraculous as childbirth. The baby, Stella Ross, did not cry. She was plump and pink and fine, but she didn’t cry. Amazing! She has since cried, but only when she’s uncomfortable, and she settles back down easily. She is truly an angel from heaven.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks
Maggie and Stella, love at first sight.

Mother is Home

Mothers welcome
a child’s tears
with embrace.

Joy lives here, too,
unexpected grace
of forgiveness.

She carries your furniture,
dusts it with lemon-scented Pledge,
scrubs the mud from the floor
you tread.

You do not have to be grateful.
You don’t have to say, “I love you.”
You don’t have to say anything.

She will hold your hand,
kiss the scratch, place the band-aid on.

No flourish.
She is your home.

Margaret Simon, draft

Read other poems from this challenge:

Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise